This post was originally published on the WindAid blog. The article can be found here
Back in the summer of 2014, I had one of the best experiences of my life (sounds cheesy and the start of a teenage girl movie doesn’t it?). I was just finishing university and graduating with an electronics engineering bachelor degree at the University of Plymouth and before getting hooked into a 9-5 job I was looking to have an experience where I could combine three different factorsContinue Reading “WindAid is also Electronics”
Wind Turbines with Twitter accounts? Unconventional perhaps, but it’s a zero service cost option I was able to implement that allows WindAid Institute, a Peruvian Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to receive notifications from their wind turbine systems in rural Peru. The open source remote monitor project (or ReMona) was born out of a need to:
Receiving system alerts, such as battery level being critically low.
Wanting Live data to track system usage and turbine performance anywhere in the world.
Most of us have come across PCB and FPCB in our day to day usage of electronic devices. However, few of us have ever taken time to think about how PCBs and PCBA are made. So we keep wondering how the PCBs that drive our appliances including computers and microwaves are actually made. In this article, we delve into what PCBs are, the materials used in making them, the cost and the process of manufacturing them.Continue Reading “PCB Technology 101”
Nowadays, most electronic devices out there require some form of intelligence or decision making. Sometimes very talented electronic engineers can make this using purely analogue and digital electronics together and substantially reduce the costs of the project. However, it is more than common to find that almost all electronic products have a microcontroller inside. These little computers introduce the possibility of measuring analogue signals so they can be processed, enable communication between peripherals, and execute a code taking into account the inputs of your system, just to name a few things.Continue Reading “Virtual Coffee with a Firmware Engineer”
Lately, there has been a rise in dashcams sold worldwide to protect the driver’s insurance claims. Most of the time, these have been sufficient. I recently bought my first car and had to drive about an hour on the motorway to my first job. Being a new driver, I had my car fitted with a black box (telematics box) to monitor my driving. A few years later, I bought my second car, but I didn’t have a telematics box installed. Given the driving styles I have seen from various individuals on my commute to and from work, I felt a dashcam alone would not be sufficient, and I really wanted to have something that could monitor my driving in the event of some idiot thought they were on the set of the next Fast & Furious. So I made my own!Continue Reading “DIY Telematics Box”
A circuit simulator is a tool for “seeing” what a circuit does. In comparison to mechanical machines such as a bicycle and a lever, electronics cannot be easily inspected by the naked eye.
When you look at a bicycle you can observe it and see that stepping on the pedals makes a chain turn, and that this chain moves the bicycle wheels.
In contrast, if you open up an audio amplifier, it will be really hard to tell what it does if you don’t have previous experience in designing and building electronic circuits.
Simulating To Understand A Circuit
Circuit simulators give you the flexibility to look at the voltage and current of every wire and component in a circuit.
If you are having trouble understanding a circuit, you can try drawing it up in a circuit simulator such as LTSpice (free). You can change the input voltage and components parameters and see how the circuit reacts. And this will give you an idea of what the circuit does.
Circuit Simulator Example
I’ve created a circuit that might be difficult to understand for electronics beginners. But by using a circuit simulator you can figure out the function of it and how its individual parts work:
Instead of having many images and long texts, I have made a video to go through the explanation of how to use LTSpice to figure out the function of this circuit. I am not telling you what it does, it’s in the video
Remember that you have to add the LM339 to the components library in order for the simulation to work.
How To Understand What A Circuit Does
In summary, in order to find out how a circuit works through simulation you should:
1. Think in terms of I/O:
If you are analyzing an analog circuit, then its main purpose will be to take an input signal, process it and output it as something else.
Find out what’s the input parameter, change its value and see how it affects the output. This way you will find out what’s the primary function of the circuit.
2. Divide the circuit into stages (if applicable):
Some analog circuits do more than one kind of processing, they could convert a current into a proportional voltage signal and then output another voltage to trigger a switch after a certain amount of time has passed.
Analog functions can do: conversion, switching, timing, filtering, amplifying, attenuating and more. In order to understand how your circuit works, divide it into stages so you can analyze each stage individually.
What you are basically doing is creating a smaller structure where you can apply the I/O principle again.
3. Analyze each stage:
Change the input parameter and the components values and see how it affects the output, probing different parts of the circuit. This way you will see and find out how this circuit works and relates to the rest of the bigger picture.
Hopefully, after reading this article and watching the video, you have one more tool in your arsenal as an electronics maker.
One of the main challenges that HW startups face is the issue of financing the project. Fortunately, in the last years, a range of different alternatives has risen allowing many companies to take that initial jump and pay for development and manufacturing costs. One of the most popular ways to finance a project nowadays without involving banks and investors is through crowdfunding. What the backers get in return can either be a percentage of ownership of the company or a special edition product (sometimes even both).Continue Reading “Dissection of a Successful HW Product Crowdfunding Experience”
A tree can be long, tall with vibrant green leaves and mandarins because it has strong roots and a system that can deliver its nutrients effectively without overloading or bottlenecks.
The simple structure is that a stronger entity supports a smaller one and then repeats itself. The energy to make a leaf grow will be less than the one used for growing a branch (or so I think so as I am not a biologist). And as we can assume, a branch is capable of supporting a certain amount of leaves and fruits and of delivering the nutrients and water from the roots. I think I have never seen a healthy tree with a branch with too many leaves and fruits to the point of damaging the rest of the tree because of overweight or the energy demand of the leaves and fruits is too much.Continue Reading “The Powertree: Calculating Power Consumption”
Just as a stable voltage source is necessary for any analogue circuit to work properly, a clock is required for any digital circuit to appropriate shift from one state to the next. In this short article, we will look into the design of an oscillator circuit to give your circuit’s MCU or any other digital IC the necessary clock to perform its functions.Continue Reading “Crystal oscillator for your digital ICs”
A device’s power source and power management are one of the most important parts of any electronic product. After all, without a stable voltage source that can supply enough current for the circuit to work properly, there is no life. In the last decade, there has been an exponential increase of electronic products that have a battery embedded into them. So the need of knowing the different battery types so you can select the correct one for your application is required more than ever.